tv To the Contrary With Bonnie Erbe WHUT June 26, 2010 10:30am-11:00am EDT
>> funding for "to the contrary" provided by: this is the pursuit of the impossible. this is the pursuit of perfection. >> the life technology foundation is proud so support "to the contrary" our foundation seeks to advance science education further society's understanding of the life sciences including the impact of genomics on the practice of medicine. >> and by: sam's club, committed to small business.
and the spirit of the entrepreneur. and proud to support pbs's "to the contrary" with bonnie erbe. additional founding provided by: the colcom foundation the charles a. frueauff foundation and by the sanofi aventis foundation. >> this week on "to the contrary" the obama administration presses forward with expanded rights for gays and lesbians. behind the headlines, the growing us population's affect on america's farmlands. welcome to "to the contrary," a discussion of news and social trends from diverse perspectives. up first: the obama administration's gay rights agenda:
>> just as i was very proud to say the obvious more than 15 years ago in beijing that human rights are women's rights - and women's rights are human rights - let me say today that human rights are gay rights and gay rights are human rights. [applause] >> this week, the obama administration expanded the family medical leave act to include same-sex couples. this will allow gay and lesbian workers to take unpaid leave from work to care for a partner's sick or newborn child. one million lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender families are raising two million children. >> it's good for our country to give employees the ability to take care of their families. the recent extension to the fmla unfortunately does not allow you to take time out to care for your partner. what it does do is allow you to take time out to care for your partner's children.
this is good for kids across the board. >> this follows the president's earlier expansion of hospital visitation rights for same sex partners. since taking office, president obama signed into law the matthew shepard, james byrd jr. hate crimes prevention act and issued new passport regulations for transgender travelers. the president also promises to repeal the military's controversial don't ask, don't tell policy, barring gay men and women from serving openly, and the defense of marriage act, which allows states not to recognize all but heterosexual marriages from other states. >> i think the most important thing i'd like to see him do within his time in the administration is to pass the employment non-discrimination act. i think the don't ask, don't tell is on a good track and that's the next step in ensuring that lgbt americans don't have
to worry about losing their jobs not because of incompetence. we always want employers to have the ability to fire people if they're not doing their job. we just want to know when we show up on the job, we're going to be judged on the merits of our performance and not on who we are, who are families are. >> so, congresswoman norton is president obama giving gays and less beians what they hoped for then they voted for him in large numbers. >> sure he is, bonnie. when it comes to basic rights, freedom now will always be the standard. >> he doesn't seem to be giving anyone what they want. this is what happened when you try to be all things to all people during the campaign. >> i think that you rarely get everything that you ask for but he's doing a very good job on this issue. >> not yet, smaller steps but the big promises haven't been delivered. >> what do you think he needs to do? >> as you mentioned -- welcome
to the show, by the way. >> thank you. i'm happy to be here. >> the important discrimination act is huge, the don't ask, don't tell. doing the things he can do without acts of congress which is smart. there are a lot are symbolic steps they're not huge changes. >> the things he can do without acts of congress, could he get them through congress? >> that's one of the big questions, whether his priorities, doesn't have to do with his clout. with the republicans. good and well he cannot get don't ask, don't tell through congress. we have all but passed, this is the nondiscrimination act. most americans are for the act, we could in fact get these done, we have democratic congress and president but we have republicans who know how to stand in the way to filibuster. everyone knows what would happen. only way we got hate crimes
passed is passage to defense bill. this is human rights circa 21st century we still have party which stands in the way of human rights for people they don't like. >> that's not fair. i think republicans are looking at it from the perspective of their constituents. the american people overwhelmingly with gay marriage still are not in support of it. they look at it as it should be states right act, 31 states voted against same sex marriages. in california which is one of the more liberal states in the union they voted it down twice. it's been upheld in -- legally. it's not fair to say that it's because we don't -- no one likes it. i think there are other considerations particularly and some of the other areas where people feel as though that these rights go, extend way beyond what they should be. and it could be hurtful to businesses. >> why are people still worrying about these things.
because quite frontally it's not anything that -- a married person's marriage is not -- heterosexual couple's marriage is not going to be directly impacted by the fact that two men or two women can get married. so -- >> i think it's a -- >> it's a religious war we are not supposed to be letting religion flubs state in this country. the fact is that we do. >> we're still a judea-christian society overwhelmingly, 80-plus percent. those things are still very real for every day individuals. i think that people feel something century's he'll like marriage between a man and woman should remain. most people agree a civil union -- >> also talked -- we did a whole series on less beian scholars, by the way, they pointed different version of the bible that say that's not in the bible. >> a lot of congregations are really accepting of same-sex couples across the country. these selective elections where people have gone out don't
really represent the majority of the american public. >> i really do believe this is a civil rights issue. i think you can look back when we were having issues between the races and the civil rights legislation trying to get that passed. that people said its state's rights, let the states do it. as some point as secretary clinton said, human rights, civil rights issue. that is where i think the federal golf has every right to over -- federal government has every right to override. >> civil rights issues what you call civil rights issue. but if you want to -- >> and a biblical stand on one issue or another is also what -- different churches. >> for a moment let's put same-sex marriage aside. you're right where the majority seem to be. how do you account for the fact that the employment nondiscrimination act where the majority of the american people believe that if you qualified to do the job that's all the boss should take in to account. how do you account for the fact that the only way we got hate
crimes you can't go after somebody because of their sexual orientation was attach to a defense. >> i think the hate crimes law something that is redundant, we've talked about this many times. >> , no because why should one type of crime be more important than another type of violent crime. >> i don't agree with that either. acts of violence are inherently hateful, because i'm black or white and i decide to kill someone, shouldn't make that death any or important or worse if it's white on white or male on male. hate crimes are redundant. so, that is another reason why, it's not black and white, no pun intended, why you had to attack the hate crime bill. >> i would just like to say so we don't get down to hate crimes legislation, relitigate. >> as a judge. >> thank you. >> as former federal prosecutor i will say one of the reasons the legislation was necessary was because then it gave federal
jurisdiction to go in and prosecute these cases where in the states they weren't being prosecuted by local and state prosecutors. because, perhaps, of the sexual orientation of the victim. >> always an alibi. that is not the reason you can bet your bottom dollar that the homophobic republicans were against hate crimes. >> is it only republicans? >> is it going to attack -- this is cornerstone of the republicans. republican party, again, if you want to alibi that one, alibi the employment nondiscrimination act. >> if they happen to be gay or less beian. >> that's not what is happening. if the private businesses should be able to hire who they want if someone is -- absolutely.
they would not be permitted, they have certain clauses and certain expectations they said they don't want to hire, it's against their religion or whatever to hire homosexuals and -- >> how about the -- >> and that is their priority as a private business. >> let's get you in mere, maria with what time we have left. >> i think it has come down to protecting individual people and their families. i think the strides that obama is making are smart. i think people deserve not to be fired for how they live or who they partner with. people deserve to have benefits for their families, for their children they deserve that, basic tenants of american society. >> do you think we'll get to the point where americans give up on prejudice against gays and lesbians if so, how far away? >> i think we made a lot of progress. i as young person experience different culture. we're making good strides but such an issue hard to see when
very small percentage of the right wing feels very strongly about it has a lot of sway how fast it can move. >> thank you for joiningjoining us for this part of the program. >> thank you. behind the headlines: food security. it's not something talked about very often, but the fact is america's rising population is affecting our food supply chain in very important ways. farmland is disappearing at an alarming rate as farms are sold off and developed into suburban housing, shopping malls and transportation systems. "to the contrary" takes a closer look at why this is happening and what needs to be done about it. the american farmland trust is the only national environmental organization devoted entirely to preserving farms. on its website are the following grim statistics: we lost farm and ranch land 51% faster in the 1990s than in the 1980s.
most fertile and productive-the fastest. our food is increasingly in the path of development. wasteful land use is the problem, not growth itself. >> we're losing about a million acres a year, so that's over the course of the last 30 years since american farmland trust has been in existence that's about 30 million acres. >> there's a healthy debate >> there's a healthy debate in environmental circles about why farmland is disappearing so quickly, whether the loss is so great as to threaten america's ability to feed itself and what should be done about it. some environmentalists see farmland loss as largely an east coast phenomenon. >> in the east coast it's really a problem. we have enormous stretches of farmland in the midwest and the far west and that's of all types ranching, and citrus production in california, vegetables. we've got a lot of mixed use in the mississippi valley but we
are finding in the east coast that it's harder and harder to maintain what really have become small family farms. >> others disagree and say farmland supply in the west is dangerously dwindling, too, that land is still more widely available in the west, but not prime farmland. what most environmentalists see as the solution is something called smart growth. >> so what we need is to actually to have better cities, more livable cities, tighter knit communities, more compact development, make more land available for farming so that we can feed more people. >> smart growth was first proposed in the 1970s. in the intervening 40 years, americans have done nothing but tear up farmland in larger chunks. the appetite for suburban sprawl seems unlimited and the political will for smart growth, nonexistent. so others look to what's driving this massive paving over of farm
land and say the solution may lie elsewhere. >> the desire of people to move out of really crowded conditions in cities, which has been the american kind of way forever. it does cause a lot pressure, you could have no population growth at all and farmland would be under pressure. but we have also figured out that this country is growing by more than three million people a year. three million people, just think of all the housing that that requires, all the shopping areas, the places to work, schools, the hospitals, you just name all that stuff. three million people a year, so there's not much chance for farmland to survive around cities. >> america's major cities were founded close to or on prime farmland, so early farmers could easily reach more heavily-populated areas where they could sell their crops. as cities grew over time, they expanded out and over the best farmland. in the 1990s, according to the farmland trust, prime land was
developed 30% faster, proportionally, than the rate for non-prime rural land. marginal farmland depletes a lot more natural resources than prime land when it is farmed. it requires more water and irrigation to grow crops and produces less per acre. the farmland trust reports some 86% of us fruits and vegetables and 63% of dairy products are produced on prime farmland in urban-influenced areas, or near cities. that means much of that land will soon be consumed by pavement and man-made structures, too. >> there's new data from the economic research service that shows that we're 13 million acres short of fruit and vegetable production to meet everybody's daily requirements. >> as the supply of prime farmland and fresh produce dwindles, americans in turn grow more and more dependent on imported foods.
according to the us department of agriculture, we now import 79% of fish and shell fish, 32% of fruits and nuts and 13% of vegetables. when we import more food, we increase our trade balance deficit, we spend much more food money on fuel for transportation, and we rely more heavily on other countries, so disruptions in those markets affect our food prices and supply chain. but are we facing a shortage so serious that we could run out of food to feed ourselves? >> we would be able to feed ourselves if we all went to rice and beans diet and in a lot of ways we might be better off if we didn't require as much land, especially for the animal food that we have. >> animal food production requires many times the amount of land, water and fuel for transport on average than does produce. but even if americans switched to a diet of rice and beans our
increasing dependency on foreign food is increasing our consumption of the wrong foods, too: >> there's a high correlation between food access and obesity or lack of food access and obesity, and if you're not producing enough fruits and vegetables and the price of fruits and vegetables is expensive then those aren't the foods that people are choosing to eat. they're choosing to eat the cheap foods that tend to be really high in calories and salt and sugar and so on. >> any volvo-driving, brie-eating yuppie understands there's renewed interest in locally-grown, organic farmer's market produce which have sprung up in well-to-do city and suburban neighborhoods. but locally-grown food still comprises a very small percentage of fresh foods sold on a national scale, because it can be expensive. so with dependence on foreign foods rising and destruction of prime farmland rising, what else can be done to prevent over-development of farmland?
>> you have all of these population centers that just keep growing and growing and they grow immediately into great farmland and you can't grow by three million a year really without destroying it. what's driving the three million a year? well, long term it's all immigration. >> thank you to the panel. is our only way to -- welcome anne manetas to our panel. to stop immigration at this point? do we have other alternatives? >> well, the fact of the matter is you have to deal with both. yes, we're growing by about three million a year, 1.7 due to immigration. we're on track to lose another 50 million acres of farm land over the next 40 years. if we were to move replacement level combine with replace. level immigration rates, we already have replacement
fertility. we could save up to 20 million acres. so-- >> in a year? what are you talking -- over time? >> over the next 40 years we could save about 20 million acres if we move to replacement level immigration rates. >> congresswoman norton i remember having a discussion with you awhile back off camera, we talked about immigration and you referred to smart growth. the fact that smart growth has been around for 40 years, nobody is paying attention to it. in those 40 years we're using up more prime farm land, our suburbs are sprawling more and more. americans don't want it and they're not going to use it. what do you do to prevent the kind of disaster that is clearly brewing here? >> if you put some prime land on the market and you allow that land to go on the market, you are yourself the way you zone encouraging exactly what's happening. you got to use your zoning laws,
you can't just say, we don't want any more people or babies. but zoning is right in your hands. if you want to rezone that for more suburban small, you are doing it. that's something we could do today. >> i mean, the -- >> the comment commission in the country that is not more concerned about getting in development because they see it as -- inflating taxes in the area. so they can have more money to run their government. >> don't mistake where people who are already there are. they don't want any more people. so, if you would concentrate on -- >> are you saying any movement -- the only thing i know, i'm intimately full disclosure i'm about to get a check from a county where i own a farm because i'm selling the development rights. these programs -- but, they're very rare, this particular county in maryland only set this program up two years ago. the ones that have them in place are now running out of money
because they get it on real estate taxes and real estate sales are way down as we know in the recession. even though this has been going on in localities, it's not going to resolve the farm land reduction we're running in to. >> you can't do it by localities. if you want to deal with smart growth which by its nature spreads throughout the state, it's got to be done at the state level. >> but you cannot deny the fact that immigration is a significant contribute tore why we have this type of sprawl, why we have this growth in population centers that is moving -- >> why is that not talked about more? >> it's multi-faceted. just like the congresswoman said that through zoning laws you can control these things. we'll, we can easily control our borders and lock them down, fix our immigration system, punish the employers that are giving the incentive to have people come over and work illegally. the agriculture business is over 50% workers are illegal.
we're facilitating the ability for the folks to come here and work. then we complain when they bring their families over and then you got -- >> isn't there also -- you know, if you talk about -- your father is south american, right? when you talk about this in public do you not get accused of racism for being anti-hispanic? >> it's about rule of law. it wouldn't matter wherever they were coming from. it doesn't matter, just so happens that it's predominantly central americans, south america because it's easier to get here. they're connected to us. let's go on in mexico. it's failed state almost in mexico. so, i understand why people are fleeing to come here. we also as americans besides the fact it bids down wages for american workers. it's a national security issue as well. we need to control our borders, population growth also
contributes to benefits, what's going on here, services. all things that are combined that need to be addressed immediately. >> i think it would be interesting to see study with the urban sprawl and subdivisions how many people are immigrants that are living in this home. my experience from what i've seen, these are nice homes, middle to upper middle income people who are living in them. still plenty of room in the city abandoned apartments. all kinds of space to put people. i just don't think we can put everything on immigration. and go, the bad immigrants, the bad immigrants they're the ones causing all of this. >> isn't there a distinction between immigrants and mass immigration which is what we have here now. the point is, we tried smart growth, americans don't want it they're paying no darn attention to it. >> absolutely. u.s. department of agriculture data show that population growth over the past decade has accounted for that 50% of our
sprawl. population growth vast majority to due to immigration. i don't think people are saying, this is immigrants' fault, of course not. i think americans don't really understand that this is about the number, this is not about race. >> all right. sorry, i've just gotten the cut. that's it for this edition of "to the contrary." next week: labor secretary hilda solis her agency is doing to ensure workplace safety and address the needs of working women. please join us on the web for "to the contrary extra." whether your views are in agreement or to the contrary, please join us next time. >> funding for "to the contrary" provided by:
>> this is the pursuit of the impossible. this is the purr foot of perfection. >> the life technology foundation is proud so support "to the contrary" our foundation seeks to advance science education further society's understanding of the life sciences including the impact of genomics on the practice of medicine. >> and by: sam's club, committed to small business. and the spirit of the entrepreneur. and proud to support pbs's "to the contrary" with bonnie erbe. additional founding provided by: the colcom foundation the charles a. frueauff foundation and by the sanofi aventis foundation.